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How to Deal with a Parent or Loved One

That Refuses Needed Support

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Falls Undermine Independence

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Practically every day I talk with a person or family who is trying to get their loved one to accept help.  Often times, families call in wondering about service options for home care.  From the conversation, we find that the real issue is that someone needs home care service, but the family does not think they will get them to agree to it.  I usually tell them if I can just come out and meet with them, that I can sometimes be a lot more convincing than a family member can be. The truth is that most of the time my success with a family is about approach and also not being emotionally connected to the situation.  I think it is important for families and caregivers to know a few tips on how to talk with their loved one about adding supportive services.  


I recommend that you start this conversation very early.  Don’t wait until the person is in a crisis and decisions have to be made on the spot.  Remember that just because an elderly person is doing just fine today does not mean that something traumatic couldn’t happen tomorrow.  Ask your loved one what they would want for their care.  Gather options and cost information for in-home care, assisted living care and nursing home care in that person’s community.  Be prepared that most often a person’s response is that they want to stay in their own home so have those service options available to discuss.  This conversation goes smoother when someone is not already having trouble and it gives the family a baseline when it is time to actually push for services or changes.


When you are ready to push for services, give your loved one some options.  Try not to give people the option to say no.  Tell the person that the time has come to have some support. Present choices to them and let them know which you would prefer.  People want to know that they still have control of their life so if you can get the person to make a choice about care on their own, it usually works out in the long run much better.  An example of this would be: “would you prefer to have a personal assistant come to your home to assist a few times per week or move to an assisted living facility?”  


If you can, take it slow.  Introduce support a few times per week and get them used to it and then move to increasing services.  I have found that the most reluctant person for in-home service can get used to the personal assistant and then actually request more service down the road.  This goes back to introducing this early before a lot of services are needed due to a crisis.  You can use the approach that the service is going to be in place to try and prevent any other services from being needed.  People do not want to go to the emergency room or be hospitalized, so using the approach that supportive services can help avoid these usually works well.  


Understand you may have limits.  People have the right to self-determine unless they are not able to make decisions for themselves any longer.  Accept that you have tried to convince them and have offered supportive options but that accidents do happen.  Sometimes it takes a crisis for someone to agree to support. Although it is unfortunate, if you have had this discussion prior to the crisis, you will at least be prepared and know who you will call to add services at this time.  


Call in a professional early to help you through this process.   At Western Illinois Home Health Care, our Senior Care Management Team can come to the home and provide you support and information on our services. If you or your family is in need of assistance, please call our office at 1-800-228-5993.  


Amanda Powell, BSW is a Senior Care Manager for Western Illinois Home Health Care      

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How to Deal with a Parent or Loved One that Refuses Needed Support

March 2014

by Amanda Powell